In 1980, Sir Clive Marles Sinclair established Sinclair Research Ltd. in England. He wanted to build a small home computer that would be affordable to the general public. In 1981 he released the Sinclair ZX80 in England. It came in kit form and retailed for less than 100 English pounds. (About $200 dollars.)
The ZX81 was released several months later. It was an assembled version of the ZX80. The system featured a Z80A microprocessor with a speed of 3.25Mhz. It came with 1K of internal RAM (Random Access Memory), 4K ROM (Read Only Memory) and featured no dedicated graphics chip. The burden of generating graphics rested entirely on the shoulders of the CPU. Because of this, programmers were able to achieve complete control over what was displayed on-screen. The Sinclair ZX81 required a black and white television. The display featured black characters over a white background. The ROM contained 8K BASIC interpreter and the RAM was expandable (externally) up to 16K bytes.
Following the release of the ZX81 Timex, an American watch manufacturer, became interested in the Sinclair computer systems. In 1981, Timex signed a contract with Sinclair to release the new Timex Sinclair (TS) 1000 in the United States. The TS 1000 was basically a ZX81 circuit board in a new case. When it was unveiled to American consumers, the system retailed at $99. Sales were initially brisk for Timex. More than 550,000 units had been sold by fall 1982.
TS 1000 buyers immediately encountered obstacles with the machine. Most of the programs written for it would not run without an additional RAM pack. This accessory was not widely available upon the introduction of the system. When buyers attempted to use the TS 1000 they found themselves extremely limited in the options available to them.
The TS 1000 had additional limitations. The keyboard did not offer separate keys. Like the ZX81, the TS 1000 used a pressure-sensitive plastic membrane keyboard that made typing impossible. The computer itself could not produce color graphics and had no sound chip thus there were no sound effects available during gameplay. The system was made for the most undemanding computer user. By May 1983 its price had been dropped to $49.
The follow-up to the TS 1000 was the TS 1500. It was introduced in August 1983 in a quick attempt to revive plummeting sales for TS 1000. The unit was a repackaged ZX81 that featured an internal 16K RAM pack. Timex Sinclair improved upon the 1000's plastic membrane keyboard with a new rubber keyboard. The TS 1500 failed to catch on with the public.
The TS 2000 was introduced in the late fall 1983. It was the American introduction of the British Sinclair Spectrum computer. It was successful when released in England but did little business in America.
In November 1983, Timex Sinclair released its last system, the TS 2068. Unlike its predecessors, the TS 2068 was not a simple clone of previous English released Sinclair computers. The TS 2068 featured an impressive sound chip capable of three channels of sound and it contained a cartridge port to the right of the keyboard. Tape input and output operated at 1200 baud. The TS 2068 did not last long in American stores. By this time Timex Sinclair's name had been tarnished among consumers and the Commodore 64 computer was dominating the market.
Top games made for the Timex Sinclair system include: Galaxians, 3D Monster Maze 1K Chess, Black Crystal and Gauntlet ~ Dave Beuscher, All Game Guide